Thunderous rumbles, star streaks that project beyond the stage and a loud bang that reverberates throughout the darkened theater.
The opening sequence from Memory 5D+ is just the tip of the iceberg that sets the stage for the incredible world premiere immersive experience that was staged for just two days recently at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Those lucky to be a part of the audience witnessed the future of theater in addition to an eye-popping spectacle that featured amazing performances from Chinese dancers, gymnasts, singers, and musicians.
Organizers are considering touring this $6 million multimedia extravaganza and if it comes near a stage near you – don’t hesitate to get tickets!
Bringing together digital animation with rear and front projection screens (and other surprises), Memory 5D+ incorporates the latest technology to tell an ancient Chinese story about the birth of the universe and how Yin and Yang, manifested in human form, can come together in harmony despite their polarity.
The production is a series of “acts” with performers showcasing their mouth-dropping skills (ala Cirque du Soleil). Because of the short scenes, Memory 5D+ works for families with small children; you don’t need to understand Chinese to know what is happening on stage. The imagery, the movement, the scenery and the actors communicate beyond words.
The special effects may seem familiar: John Hughes, who waved his technological magic on “Frozen,” “Moana” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” serves as the visual consultant and co-writer.
Hughes sought a way to work with the show’s creator, Ulan Xuerong the Founder and General Director of China Film HuaTeng, to bridge the five elements of Chinese philosophy – wood, fire, earth, metal, and water — into the stage performance along with engaging the five senses beyond the traditional.
Expect the unexpected with a heightened sound system that makes you think that croaking night frogs or ferocious firestorm is literally right behind you. Be prepared for a whiff of jasmine or roses when projected flowers fall from the sky onto the actors.
Perhaps the most engaging aspect of the entire production is the music which drives the story forward and, despite being played on numerous ancient instruments, presents a modern, contemporary sound that is accessible and infectiously riveting to those not used to hearing the breath of Chinese music.
Throughout the show, the music seems familiar yet mysterious. There are exotic displays of Tuvan throat singers, Tibetan folk songs and an Urtin Duu (Mongolian long-tune).
When musician Zhou Sivao starts strumming the ancient Chinese harp, the konghou, for a dramatic interpretation of war’s destruction, the audience is enraptured in her powerful artistry.
Sometimes the rhythms pulse with Bollywood-like glee, other tunes are reminiscent of Spanish flamenco while the finale invokes the frenetic whirling dervishes of the Middle East.
All in all, the production features 25 musicians along with 20 dancers, many who showcase the minority cultures of China. Their impressive skill and mastery of the arts sometimes overshadow the lasers, surround sound and other high-tech advances that are infused into this production. Nonetheless, Memory5D+ will happily linger in audience memories for quite a long time afterward.
PHOTOS courtesy of Memory 5D+
We attended a performance as press for editorial purposes. Opinions are our own.